Preparing for the 'winter blues' during a pandemic

The last eight months during the pandemic has certainly tested our resilience, and with winter approaching, the need to continue to adapt is at an all-time high. According to Yahoo Life mental health contributor, Jen Hartstein, even if you're not diagnosed with Seasonal Affective Disorder, there's a good chance you've experienced the 'winter blues' that it often brings. “Serotonin levels tend to drop and serotonin is one of the neurotransmitters we need to help boost our mood and keep us feeling more up,” she says. “We also know that our melatonin levels change and melatonin is really impactful in how our sleep cycles work…[it] will impact our mood and our feeling sad and anxious.” With the darkness setting in earlier and earlier, our biological rhythm is thrown off, and our bodies may feel that it’s time to go to bed early in the day causing us to feel lethargic. Hartstein offer some tips for coping with feelings of despair that the cold weather may bring on while we deal with fears surrounding the pandemic. “Get outside and get that natural light as much as you can, even if it's just walking around the block,” Hartstein says. When we’re exposed to sunlight, our bodies naturally produce Vitamin D which combats the negative effects of seasonal depression. “This is a challenging time. We're still uncertain, we're still worried, and then add to it that it's going to get dark and cold and more challenging to be with the people you care about,” Hartstein says. “So validate that that's frustrating and that you're feeling overwhelmed by it, and then slow yourself down to figure out what you can do about it.”